Shute Shield 2020 Finals Week 3 Predictions

Our Shute Shield expert Hugh takes you through the games and let you know how things are going to pan out.

The 7 Two television game is Manly v Northern Suburbs. It can also be viewed online through 7 Plus at  Replays of every game are also available through Clutch TV’s Facebook page.

Warringah v Eastern Suburbs at Pittwater Rugby Park

In what was the surprise result of Round 2, Warringah went down 13-8 to Randwick at Coogee. The Rats started the game strongly, with experienced scrumhalf Josh Holmes and ex-Sydney Uni backrower Rory Suttor leading the way. A red card to Randwick fullback Locky Miller gave Warringah a 1-man advantage for the last 28 minutes but they were unable to overcome the resolute Randwick defence. Eastern Suburbs got their season back on track with a strong 36-10 win over West Harbour in the television game at Woollahra Oval. Coach Pauli Taumoepeau refused to get carried away with his team’s performance but did praise the Beasties’ ability to control the game during key moments, despite playing much of the game without Australian 7s representative and former Wallaby Rod Davies, who left the field with concussion. Former Manly Marlin Sam Shires had another strong game for Easts, as did centre Henry Paterson. 

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The Rats, beaten grand finalists in the last 2 years, have started the season with back to back losses and will be desperate to get their first win on the board. Easts will be keen to stake their claim as a genuine top 6 team by knocking over one of the competition heavyweights. This is a tough one to predict but I think that the home ground advantage will see the Rats sneak home. 

Prediction: Warringah by 5

Eastwood v West Harbour at TG Milner Field

Eastwood, surprise week 1 losers, won their first game of the season against the Hunter Wildfires. The Woodies were less than convincing in the first half but scored 33 unanswered points in the final 32 minutes of the match to win 46-11. Skipper Pat Sio and Waratah’s Academy player Lachlan Shelley both had strong games. West Harbour coach Mark Gudmunson is remaining positive despite his side’s failure to record a win in their first two games, following up their 1st Round loss to Norths with a 36-10 defeat at the hands of Eastern Suburbs last Saturday. The Pirates were in the game at halftime despite trailing 15-3, but allowed the Beasties to score first in the second half and the game was all but over with 20 minutes to go.

If you’re wondering who the Hunter Wildfires are here’s an interview with their head coach Scott ‘Bubba’ Coleman by Behind the Ruck.

The Pirates are improving with each round and always lift for the local derby against Eastwood. The Woodies have started the season in less than convincing fashion but I’m predicting that they will produce a more polished performance to beat the Pirates this week.

Prediction: Eastwood by 18

Manly v Northern Suburbs at Manly Oval

Manly fought hard against Sydney University last week but ultimately didn’t do enough to get the win, going down 10-6 in a tight encounter at University. Although pleased with his side’s grit and determination, coach Matt McGoldrick admitted that execution was lacking at times. Connor Stewart and Van Davison were best for the Marlins. Northern Suburbs started slowly against Penrith, ahead only at 13-3 at halftime, but went on to score 6 second half tries in a 53-3 win. Winger Reece Mau’u bagged a double, while skipper Nick Palmer led from the front.

Norths are undefeated on top of the table after wins against Penrith and Wests but Manly will provide a sterner test this week, especially at the Village Green. The Marlins weren’t overly convincing against the Two Blues in Round 1 but were very competitive against competition heavyweights Sydney University last week. This match is almost a toss of the coin and should tell us a lot more about both teams.

Prediction: Manly by 3

Western Sydney Two Blues v Randwick at Lidcombe Oval

Randwick have won plenty of admirers in the first 2 rounds with strong wins over the Hunter Wildfires and Warringah, both at Coogee Oval. While it was their attack that impressed in Round 1, it was their strong defence that won the day against Warringah. With a number of players having to leave the field due to injury, and a red card to fullback Locky Miller, the Wicks showed plenty of character to restrict the Rats to only 8 points. Backrower Christian Poidevin and lock Nathan Den Hoedt led the way for Randwick. The Western Sydney Two Blues travelled across Sydney to take on Gordon at Chatswood Oval. Despite dominating the lineout early on, the Two Blues were unable to make inroads into the Gordon defence and the Highlanders ran the bigger Western Sydney forward pack off their feet. Coach Joel Rivers was bitterly disappointed with the 64-0 defeat, especially after their promising performance against Manly the week before. Special mention should be made of former Wallaby Totafu Polota-Nau who, after playing 4th Grade for the Two Blues, then volunteered to run the line during the Jack Scott Cup match which took place under lights after 1st Grade.

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The Two Blues will relish hosting their first game in 2020 and face a Randwick side that will be without Dave Horwitz and Henry Hutchison due to injury and presumably Locky Miller due to suspension. Despite this, I expect Randwick to notch up their third win of the season.

Prediction: Randwick by 35

Penrith v Southern Districts at Nepean Rugby Park

Penrith were welcomed back into the Shute Shield with a 53-3 loss against Northern Suburbs at Bon Andrews Oval. The Emus started strongly, especially in defence and at scrum time. The Shoremen took advantage of a yellow card to Emus’ prop Maciu Latabua and went to the break ahead 13-3. The second half was a different story and as the Emus began to tire, Norths took full advantage and scored 6 second half tries. After the game, Emus’ coach John Muggleton lamented his side’s lack of discipline and fitness but was pleased with the effort. Southern Districts surprised Eastwood in Round 1 before having their bye week in Round 2. Rugby league convert Harry McLennan starred in the win over the Woodies, scoring two tries. A potential season ending injury to skipper Marcus Carbone put somewhat of a dampener on what was an impressive performance by the Rebels.

Penrith will be thrilled to be able to once again provide their own brand of unique hospitality, including the famous Emu Burger, at Nepean Rugby Park. The Emus will improve every week but I expect that fitness could again play a role this week. Southern Districts will be fresh and raring to go after having the bye last week so I expect them to be too strong. 

Prediction: Southern Districts by 35

Hunter Wildfires v Sydney University at Newcastle Sports Ground No. 2

The Wildfires hosted their first game of the season against Eastwood last Saturday. The Newcastle based side won plenty of admirers with a very competitive 60 minutes before the Woodies’ superior fitness and experience saw them eventually win 46-11. Meanwhile, Sydney University hosted Manly in what was a tough low scoring encounter. While the attacking execution may have been lacking at times, the strong University defence held firm.

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The Wildfires will enjoy playing in Newcastle for a second consecutive week but face another tough assignment, coming against the most successful Shute Shield club in the professional era. The Students showed against Manly and Warringah that they will once again be one of the teams to watch in 2020. I’m predicting a University win.

Prediction: Sydney University by 34

Bye: Gordon

Round 2 Results

Eastern Suburbs v West HarbourEastern Suburbs by 12Eastern Suburbs 36-10
Hunter Wildfires v EastwoodEastwood by 25Eastwood 46-11
Gordon v Western SydneyGordon by 32Gordon 64-0
Sydney University v ManlySydney University by 8Sydney University 10-6
Northern Suburbs v PenrithNorthern Suburbs by 35Northern Suburbs 53-3
Randwick v WarringahWarringah by 9Randwick 13-8
Southern Districts – Bye

10 out of 126 just the 1 getting away each round so far for Hugh’s predictions.

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